What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Secrets of the Gold?
In 1989 I was run over by a truck. I lost decades of memory. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a million dollars in gold bullion with it. (Which weighs about eighty pounds, and I’ve worn heavier armor.) But it gave me an understanding of living one’s life with no basis for knowing your own back story. I’ve had the cards and licenses to drive everything, so I started there.
I don’t remember where I was going to go with Duff’s story, but we got to the restaurant, but then this wild teenage girl ran in. She then kidnapped Duff… and I barely had time to just hold on for the ride.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Secrets of the Gold, what would they be?
“This is my fight song” by Rachel Platten.
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
The genre I read the most is the Wall Street Journal. But for novels these days, I lean toward mysteries that bust the old tropes. I’ve gone through the big names of edgy MEs, broken replays of “lawyer fights goliath for the underdog,” repeat rubber stamps of “man whore comes to town, sleeps with an unlikely woman twisting her tear-soaked kerchief, kicks some ass, and leaves town.” Yeah, more than a few writers fall into that trap.
I’m currently on a panel at Left Coast Crime Spree in Albuquerque. The panel is about tropes we hate and ones we want to see. It’s also about the ones we like and use. Recently, I read a well-crafted story that takes place in a marginal section of Los Angeles. My problem was that I couldn’t think of a single six-block area of current Los Angeles that was 100% white and 98% male. Even the tiny town I grew up wasn’t as homogeneous as people thought. So I look for writers who are aware of society and its makeup.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
Most have a lot of dust on them. Some are screwy chemistry, geology, and soils textbooks. I’m still trying to get my hands on procedural books from a particular federal investigation gang. Otherwise, I have copies of a few movies (the original books and their scripts) to study. But the one book on my nightstand is Cornici del Rinascimento, the history of picture frames in the Italian Renaissance and architecture.
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
If I was to buy another motorcycle, it would be the sixtieth I have ever owned. I’ve logged close to a million miles on motorcycles. I hold the record of driving a three-wheeler on the old Ontario oval at over 160mph. So driving a motorcycle—any motorcycle—fast gets my blood pumping. And throw in some streets or crooked back roads… I’m a happy writer. And if it ever made it to a movie, I even know the right woman to do the canyon racing.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
Come on. When I write, the cats don’t want to be on the same floor as me.
My most productive has always been in a dark cave of a basement room. There is a single dim lamp. And my 42” monitor. Only the furnace or the humidity fan breaks the silence. Nothing to interrupt the movie in my head. But, for happy writing, it would have to be with my laptop, on the fan deck of the Wind Surf under full sail in the center of the ocean, as the knife-edge of gold splits the dark sky from the darker black of the sea.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
Not all mysteries are murder, and not all murders are mysteries.
As for a philosophy I live by? Show up. Showing up is 99% of life. If you have a preconceived idea, you’re not showing up—you’re just taking up space.
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
People are like books. The cover is there just to sell the story. And inside the story is a better story. If given a chance, most people can surprise even themselves with how far and high they can go.
The cover of the book has the face of a young girl. The model is only fourteen. She gave me the perfect, wistful look. She gets taunted and bullied at school because she has Cerebral Palsy. I’ve watched her grow from a goofy eight-year-old into almost a woman. She has support now, and the next eight years will be fun to watch as relayed by her funcle, who I featured in another book.
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